PM praised for 'authentic' messages during lockdown

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's communication style during New Zealand's lockdown has been praised by academics who have studied her messaging to Kiwis throughout the pandemic.

The research study, co-authored by academics from four universities in Scotland, found informal videos from Ardern's home helped the country unite in the fight against Covid-19.

The study found she conveyed her messaging in a "clear and relatable way", helping create the "team of five million" come together.

Dr David McGuire, co-author and reader in Human Resource Development at Glasgow Caledonian University, said the pandemic had severely tested the leadership and communication abilities of political leaders globally and required them to demonstrate not only effective planning but an ability to communicate clear and consistent messages in an empathetic manner as well.

"Social media provides leaders with an unfiltered forum to transmit key messages to followers," he said.

"Moreover, it allows leaders to reinforce or challenge narratives of their leadership approach and show their authentic self."

The paper, co-authored by other researchers from Robert Gordon University, Edinburgh Napier, and the University of the West of Scotland, examined the initial crisis communication approach taken by New Zealand's premier to the threat posed by the virus.

It found Ardern's social media videos allowed the Prime Minister to open up a weekly dialogue with citizens, highlighting progress and challenges in combatting the virus and made her accessible and relatable, the paper concludes.

This week's three-day lockdown in Auckland ended a 102-day streak without a local infection in the country.

From classifying the Easter Bunny as an essential worker to taking a 20% pay cut in solidarity with workers who had been made redundant, her relaxed, informal messaging helped build a collective shared experience of Covid-19 and contributed to one of the lowest death rates in the world, the study found.

The paper was published in the journal Human Resource Development International and analysed more than 40 speeches and public statements made by Ardern in March and April 2020.




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